Cottage Cheese Muffins with Sundried Tomato and Basil

I made a major discovery. Instead of your typical coffee shop muffin (super-sweet calorie bomb), these “muffins” are more like a hand-held souffle. They are delightfully savory, with cottage cheese, parmesan, sun-dried tomatoes, and basil. They made a fantastic lunch (I’ll take two, please) as well as the easiest grab-and-go breakfast ever. Even better than their taste is the fact that they have less than 125 calories each. It’s actually kind of unbelievable.

These muffins come from the amazing Heidi Swanson at 101 Cookbooks. As I have mentioned, my best friend of the same name (Hi, Heidi!) introduced me to Ms. Swanson’s work a couple years ago and I always do a quick search on her blog whenever I am looking for a healthy meal. I am beyond thrilled to be sharing these with you, and I hope you make them as soon as you can. This is one that just shouldn’t wait.

p.s. how do you like my makeshift muffin wrappers? I never remember to buy them at the store, but parchment paper made a great (and probably cheaper) alternative!

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Heirloom Tomato and Burrata Panzanella

Due to the bizarre weather we are having this year, I don’t feel too guilty posting this recipe so late in the season. While some tomato crops are well past their prime, some are just starting to come to fruition – WEIRD! If you’re one of the lucky ones who still has tomatoes on the vines, you need to introduce them to burrata before it’s too late!

If you haven’t had burrata before, please run to your nearest cheese shop and grab a tub. Burrata is a fresh mozzarella ball filled with mozzarella “rags” (pieces) and cream. It can be made with cow or buffalo milk, and it is creamy, silky, and buttery. It has a short shelf life and needs to be used within a couple days of being made. It is fabulous with crackers, crusty bread, tomatoes, basil, peaches, olive oil, or a combination of all of these…or just by itself (shh…I won’t tell!).

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Maple-y Pumpkin Loaf

pumpkin loaf

So the last week of October is upon us, and I just realized I have not baked a single pumpkin creation yet! I blame the 80 degree weather…oh, California, how I love thee.

Anyway, in honor of Halloween, and autumn, and my birthday (which is today!) I give you my first pumpkin recipe of the season: Maple-y pumpkin loaf!  I have always been a huge fan of Starbuck’s Pumpkin Loaf, splurging on all those calories once or twice a year. This year, I decided to make my own homemade version, with the addition of maple syrup, a fabulous fall flavor. This loaf is moist and delicious, with a subtle maple flavor. So fall!

Happy Birthday to me!

drips

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Fig, Brie, and Spinach Sandwiches

fig brie spinach close up

Do you ever feel fancy?  Patent leather Mary Janes when you’re three, tea parties in second grade, senior prom, dinner date in the big city…that kind of fancy.

Spinach is fancy because Popeye eats it, and he’s a cute sailor.  Brie is fancy because it’s creamy and rich.  Figs are fancy because they look like jewels when you slice them open (!!).  This little sandwich made me feel fancy, even as I ate it while driving the three kids I nanny for around in the minivan after soccer camp (I kid you not – I am a soccer mom in training!).

The sad thing about fancy Figs is that not many Americans have ever had fresh ones! This is funny, because Fig Newtons seem to be a beloved snack.  I have a secret: I had my first Fig Newton exactly one week ago.  For most people I know, the opposite is true – they’ve never, ever tried a fresh fig, but have been eating Fig Newtons their whole lives!

Give yourself a little dare this week. Visit your farmer’s market, or Trader Joe’s, and pick up some figs.  They are delicious alone, with cheese, quartered on salads, or drizzled with honey. If you’re feeling extra-brave, leave me a comment with your thoughts!  I dare you – let me know what makes you feel fancy.

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Authentic Swiss Fondue

fondue!

One of my very best friends in the world was born and spent his childhood in Bern, Switzerland.  Sergej is, by default, a master of many traditional Swiss recipes, one of which is this delicious fondue.  He recently came over one evening and taught me how to make it…and now, darling reader, you better be feeling pretty lucky that he has allowed me to share this!

This is a great party food – it’s pretty thrilling to gather around a pot of cheese with good friends and wine.  In fact, one of my best friends – hi, Andrea! – always got a big group together to go to Melting Pot for her birthday during college. Yummm.

So yeah, go ahead and make this really soon.  The only deterrent is probably the availability of a fondue pot, but I bet you can find a set on ebay or at a thrift store for cheap.  So worth it!

cheers to the chef

cheers to the chef

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Pita Bread

pitas!

I got a pocket got a pocket full of … deliciousness!

Pita bread is incredibly easy and incredibly fast to make! I’ve always loved pitas stuffed with sandwich ingredients – they’re less messy and fun to eat.  In fact, this year’s favorite summer sandwich (I usually find a new favorite every year) has been a pita with goat cheese, avocado, and tomato.

In the past, I’ve actually used pizza dough to make a pseudo pita bread (they’re very similar), but I finally decided to go for a technical pita bread recipe when I found a recipe for baked falafel (coming soon!). Also, homemade pitas are hugely better than homemade – especially when they are still warm from the oven.  Divine.

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“Famous” No-Knead Bread

no knead

If you’re a reader of food blogs or the NY Times, you’ve probably heard of this recipe – Jim Lahey of NYC’s Sullivan Street Bakery was featured in a 2006 article, and the rest is history.  The news of a bread that you don’t have to knead – so easy a preschooler could make it – spread to home kitchens everywhere.  Oh, the Internet.

If you’ve ever been to my house, there’s a good chance you’ve tried this bread.  I make it all the time.  All it takes is mixing a few ingredients together before work, and letting it sit all day.  The yeast does all the work.  And let me tell you, having fresh bread around all the time is amazing!!!  And cheaper anddd better tasting than store-bought.

So without further ado…why don’t you head into the kitchen and throw this gem together?

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